The Aye Aye is thought to be of the lemur species and is related to the primate family. It is the rarest of mammals ever to walk on earth. It is also the world’s biggest nocturnal found in the Island of Madagascar, with some of its species being traced in the USA. It is either dark brown or black, with big eyes, slender fingers and large ears that are said to be sensitive. Its claws are pointed on both its fingers and toes, and this makes it easy for the animal to dangle from branches. Aye Aye’s habitat is mostly the rainforests; the mangroves dry scrubs and in areas characterized by deciduous vegetation. While the mammal was once considered extinct, the truth is that animal is rarely seen, and what baffles naturalist and lovers of wildlife is why this peculiar creature is becoming endangered.
Over a period of about of three generations, the Aye Aye has decreased by about 50% from its original number. The fact that its population has been on the gradual decline from a century to another since the early years makes this reduction rate credible. Currently, there are about 1,000 to 10,000 of the Aye-Ayes in the wild. The animal was declared an endangered species in 2008. While they were once widely dispersed, today the Aye Aye can only be found in specific sports in Madagascar. This includes the Eastern forests ranging from the Ampanefana to the Andohaheka National Park and from Montagne d’Ambre to the south in Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park. Some reasons have been highlighted as significant contributors to the endangerment of Aye Aye.
This is the considered to be the main reason the Aye Aye is disappearing. These species breed and live in the low densities, and large tracts of land are required to make them increase in population. Due to increased people population in Madagascar, there has been a need for more human settlement resulting in clearing of forests. Besides, agriculture and initial of other economic activities has driven the need for land. Consequently, there has been a loss of habitat for the wild game Aye Aye included. Livelihood disruptions are other effects that come with habitat loss. It becomes difficult for animals to obtain food and some die as a result, and for species like Aye Aye whose number is small, they are significantly impacted.
Dangerous Local Superstitions
Due to their strange and scary looks, the Aye Ayes’ are killed when the locals of Madagascar spot them. Besides their physical attributes, they do not have fear towards humans. People even believe that their sight is an omen of ill luck. Further, there is an ancient Malagasy legend which depicts the animal as a symbol of death, with people believing that its presence shows a death of a villager. Its sharp claws are thought to be used to cut out people’s hearts and killing them. This is according to the Sakalawa belief that the Aye Aye enters houses at night and murders the sleeping humans with their sharp claws. All these beliefs and superstitions influence the killing of Aye Aye’s in a big way. The outcome has been a decline in the numbers of the animal.
Shortage of Food
Madagascar has had most of its forest converted to into agricultural plantations. The result has been the loss of authentic food for the wild. Animals like Aye Aye have been forced to be raiding these plantations to get foods such as coconuts, leeches, mangoes, and bananas. Therefore, food shortage has been a cause for their death making them endangered. Besides, when they invade people farms, a conflict arises, and they are often viewed as food pests. People kill them following this perception, further reducing their population.
Aye-Ayes give birth to a few young ones. In most of the times, they just give birth to one kid. Moreover, the females only reproduce once in two to three years. As a result and with many factors causing them to be endangered, their numbers keep small and gradually decreasing.
Aye-Ayes need to be taken into conservation centres to enhance their viability to continue living.